It’s official – Facebook organic reach is dead. This comes as no surprise at all, as we have seen Facebook reach consistently dropping across all business pages for months now. What is more unexpected however, is that Facebook has finally come out and admitted it, ending months of speculation. This article looks in more detail at what this actually means for your own Facebook business page, illustrating the impact it will have on your activities.

Abandon the sinking ship Facebook?

Be warned, the Facebook article is full of spin and tries to paint the decline in organic reach as somehow being a good thing. Read their announcement on the Facebook blog here, or check out this article from Marketing Week here.

Why Is Facebook Reach So Low?

Known as ‘content shock’, there are now so many businesses using Facebook (and other social networks) to publish their content, that at any given time, a user could potentially see hundreds if not thousands of posts appear in their News Feed.

Facebook claims that to benefit users, it restricts what it shows them based on a complex set of algorithmic calculations, commonly referred to as Edge Rank. This is the mighty Facebook News Feed Algorithm.

According to social media analysis firm BirdSong, Tesco has seen their Facebook engagement rate decline to just 0.98%, and that’s with a huge fan-base of 1.42 million people. See the Wall Street Journal article here.

Ever missed an important announcement or post from a page you follow and wondered why you didn’t see it in your timeline?

Ever wondered why a post you made about some really big news or a special offer got zero likes, comments or shares?

That’s the Facebook News Feed Algorithm doing it’s stuff in the background, deciding what it will or won’t show to a user.

Personal settings and preferences do play a small part in the algorithm. You are also more likely to see posts you have no interest in, if a lot of your friends have commented on or liked it. You are more likely to be shown universally popular content that you have no interest in (think of the likes of Buzzfeed etc) simply because it is popular (which rarely equates to that content being relevant, interesting or useful). The other big reason you’ll see content of course, is if the business has paid for it to be there.

Paid-for Facebook posts and adverts, will show up in a much larger number of users News Feeds, whilst organic posts are hidden by Facebook.

Understanding The Impact Of The Drop In Organic Facebook Reach

Let’s get on thing straight. Building a community from scratch and engaging with followers in small or new communities is now almost impossible.

Whenever you make a post, a very tiny number of your followers will be shown that post in their News Feed. When people don’t see content in their News Feed, then the only other way they can see it, is if they specifically visit your Facebook page.

With no prompt, reminder or reason to visit your business page, the chance of a follower actually checking your Facebook page on the off-chance that you will have posted content they’ll find interesting, is minimal.

Regardless of whether a person has liked your page or not, that audience is owned by Facebook, not you.

The fact is, Facebook is a pay-to-play publishing platform. If you want Facebook to promote your content to it’s users, you have to pay it. The important thing to remember here is they really are Facebook’s users, and not yours, regardless of whether a person has liked your page or not, that audience is owned by Facebook, not you.

Time To Abandon The Sinking Good Ship Facebook?

Facebook organic reach is shot and that is a fact, regardless of claims to the contrary. So it’s time to abandon the Facebook ship right? It’s not quite as simple as that.

We’ve seen that even when posts get zero on-page engagement, that they can still drive some website traffic. We’ve also seen examples of small businesses who have built up a decent following of a few thousand or more and who have particularly engaged, active followers, for whom Facebook is still working for.

However, for a small business just starting out on Facebook, or even for an established Facebook page with only a few hundred, less active followers, Facebook is not a good place to invest your time, unless you are willing to utilise it as a paid advertising platform.

Now Is The Time To Re-Focus Your Social Media Strategy

If the demise of organic reach on Facebook is news to you and something you’d not taken into consideration until now, then you really need to stop and ask yourself what value Facebook is providing you with.

If you were planning to get a Facebook business page set up, or had been wondering what the most effective social media networks to invest into would be, then my advice now remains exactly the same as it has been since late 2013.

Do not focus your activities on Facebook. Why limit the reach of your posts to less than 2% of your audience? If you are going to focus your energy anywhere, Google+ is a much better bet than Facebook, not least for the benefits Google+ provides with regards to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and in local search.

If you already have a strong following and are getting good engagement, great – keep it up. Just don’t be surprised when Facebook turns around in a 12 months time and announces that organic reach is finally down to 0%. It is a very real possibility.